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Casper asked to support creation of new indoor sports facility near Ford Wyoming Center

Crowds cheer during the 4A State Wrestling High School Championships on Saturday in the Ford Wyoming Center. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — Casper City Manager Carter Napier told the Casper City Council on Tuesday that the city has been approached by a group that is interested in constructing a new indoor sports facility in the vicinity of the Ford Wyoming Center.

Napier said that the city may be asked to provide land to facilitate the construction of the new facility and that he is advocating that the city council consider a partnership to allow the project to happen.

Should the project move forward, Napier said he hopes that it can be done in a way that is “hopefully in harmony with what Ford Wyoming Center can offer.”

Napier said the concept is to build an indoor sports facility that might include amenities like basketball courts, soccer fields and volleyball courts. Having such facilities in proximity to the Ford Wyoming Center could help attract sports tournaments into the community that the Ford Wyoming Center would otherwise be unable to host on its own.

Council member Amber Pollock asked who would be responsible for managing the proposed facility over the long term.

Napier said that the idea is that the nonprofit organization looking to build the facility would either manage the facility itself or would hire an operator. That operator could potentially be Spectra Venue Management, the company that manages the Ford Wyoming Center for the city.

Council member Bruce Knell asked whether the city is being asked to provide funding to help make the indoor sports facility a reality. Napier said that he has tried to be clear in communication with the group proposing the idea that the city is not in a position to help fund construction.

Assistant to the City Manager Jolene Martinez said in an email on Wednesday that it is the understanding of city staff that the nonprofit organization behind the proposal “is currently being formed.”

“As soon as it is formed and has a name and begins negotiating with the City, the City will be announcing it,” Martinez wrote. “As we understand it, the proposed nonprofit group does not have a firm timeline for the proposed facility or what the entirety of the facility will entail.” 

She said that the concept appears to have more momentum than being simply an idea and that “it appears the group is eager to move quickly to see if they can make an idea real.” 

The proposed facility would be built on city property near the Ford Wyoming Center, though Martinez noted that an exact location has not been identified.

“[T]here would be several possibilities because the City owns quite a bit of land around the Ford Wyoming Center, but nothing definite,” she wrote.

After Napier presented the initial idea on Tuesday, the city council expressed interest in the possibility of supporting the proposed facility.

There has been other discussion about adding new sports-related facilities to Casper in recent months. Visit Casper CEO and Natrona County Commissioner Brook Kaufman told the Casper City Council in December that the Ford Wyoming Center could potentially be expanded into a campus of facilities and that such an expansion might make it more feasible to host tournaments in Casper.

There is also a push to get a new indoor skate park built in Casper. There is a public forum scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday, February 6 at the Natrona County Public Library related to the proposed new skate park.